NEW YORK — Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo hinted Thursday evening that his advocacy for marriage equality and LGBT rights may have been one of the reasons he was cut from the team, according to a report by New York’s Newsday.
Ayanbadejo’s contract was terminated by the Ravens on Wednesday after five years with the team; he was one of several players released by the Super Bowl championship team over the past several weeks.
Appearing at the “Straight for Equality” gala in New York on Thursday night, where he and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe were honored for their pro-gay marriage activism, Ayanbadejo told Newsday that his “off the football field” activities may have been a factor in the Ravens’ decision.
“I make a lot of noise and garner a lot of attention for various things off the football field. When that starts happening, why do you have that player around?”
“I don’t necessarily think that teams want this type of attention.”
The Ravens organization never publicly took issue with Ayanbadejo, who has received significant national attention for his gay rights advocacy.
Ayanbadejo admitted there were other factors in the Ravens’ decision, including that he was highly paid for a special teamer, and the Ravens have been in cost-cutting mode since they won the Super Bowl.
Ravens senior vice president of community relations Kevin Byrne said the team was blindsided by Ayanbadejo’s claim.
“We’re surprised that he would indicate this. We have always been respectful of Brendon’s opinions and his right to express those,” Byrne told The Baltimore Sun. “Our decision regarding his departure from the team has everything to do with football. Nothing else.”
Update: Ayanbadejo quickly dispelled the Newsday report, and tweeted, “I did an interview today and no way said I was cut because my views,” adding, “Don’t believe EVERYTHING u read,” and, “I see some yellow journalism taking place.”